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To Transform the Body Online


Academic year: 2021

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Department of Education

Master Thesis 30 hp Education

Master’s Programme in Education (180-300 hp) Spring 2012

Supervisor: Hillevi Lenz Taguchi Examiner: Klas Roth

To Transform the Body Online

Productions of subjectivity between the body and practices of written text in an online message board forum for self harm support

Jesper Sellerberg



To Transform the Body Online

Productions of subjectivity between the body and practices of written text in an online message board forum for self harm support

Jesper Sellerberg


The question of the human biological body and technology has been of major concern within posthumanist theories emphasising the co-constituting relationship between materiality and social discourse for the productions of subjectivity. Online space cannot be thought of as liberating the mind from the materiality of the body, but instead seen as effected by the body and affecting the body in return. The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari has been used to argue that the body is implicated in online practices for the productions of subjectivity within posthumanist discourses. In this theoretical master thesis, the aim is to investigate the productions and transformations of the subjectivity of self harm between the biological body of the subject and practices of written text in an online message board forum for self harm support. Methodologically, a functional hermeneutics is constructed from Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the assemblage in order to engage empirical material generated from observations of the message board. The empirical material is interwoven with a theoretical exposition of Deleuze’s philosophy. By the concepts of force and affect, it is concluded that texts on the forum are constituted as bodies. However, the practices leading up to such constitution of bodies would not be considered corporeal. This is further theorised in the concept of the assemblage with particular emphasis on a proposed distinction in Deleuze’s philosophy between bodies and language. These bodies of texts function to create new forms of expressions and enunciations on the forum, and may theoretically be said to transform the biological body of the subject. The concept of expression functions to form the ethical backdrop to transformations of the body in the online space of enunciation. By the relations between bodies in the assemblage of self harm support, expression envelops these bodies in a supportive world. It is through the relations with other bodies in the assemblage that words form the expressive world that envelops all bodies in that world, thereby transforming them. This is further deepened by considering Deleuze’s ontology of the actual and the virtual, where it is proposed that online space is actual in that enunciations are materialised in bodies of texts which in turn create virtual ideas and new possibilities for expression and enunciation. It is argued both with and against posthumanist readings of Deleuze in regards to information technology that bodies and materiality are constituting factors of subjectivity along with language, insofar as the body is theorised as transformed incorporeally.


Assemblage, body, Deleuze, hermeneutics, online, self harm, subjectivity




Introduction ... 4

Research focus ... 9

Posthumanism and Deleuze – Bodies in new spaces ... 10

The body and its incorporeality ... 16

Philosophy as methodology: Studying transformations ... 20

Ethical considerations ... 22

A functional-assemblic hermeneutics... 23

To Transform ... 25

To transform I – Forces and affects of a body-subject ... 26

To transform II – The Agencement ... 34

The reciprocal separation of the world ... 37

Incorporeal transformations... 46

To transform III – Expressing other-worlds and the ethics of actual-virtual syntheses ... 51

Deleuze’s conception of the Other – Enveloping worlds of expression ... 54

The functions of collective agencements of self harm support ... 56

Discussion: a new virtual reality? ... 57

The methodological agencement and virtual futures ... 66

References ... 69




And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

You invent self-destructions that have nothing to do with the death drive. Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections that presuppose an entire assemblage, circuits, conjunctions, levels and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity...

- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Ever since the advent of the internet the question of the body has been extensively discussed and theorised. According to internet discourses in the late 1980s and early 1990s, computers and the internet were said to finally relieve us from our limited biological bodies and allow our minds to enter into the vast cyberspace of virtual reality with seemingly endless possibilities. These discourses can aptly be called “cyberutopian” (Brians, 2011; Brophy, 2010). The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari has been widely used in such discourses to argue for such a liberation of mind over body; or rather, to create new virtual bodies in cyberspace. However, their philosophy has also been employed to direct critique against cyberutopian discourses of a disembodied self that can seemingly escape the flesh (Brians, 2011:117-8). Within the field that I will refer to as posthumanism, it is instead argued for an interwoven complex of both the material world and discursive practices that rejects any mind-body dualism (Brians, 2011:127-8; Braidotti, 2006b). When theorising about the body and technology within this posthumanist field, Deleuze’s philosophy has been used to argue for such a co-constituting relationship, according to Ella Brians (2011:133) and Rosi Braidotti (2006a;

2006b:37). This would entail that what takes place on the internet is both effected by the corporeal body in front of the computer in a material surrounding, and that the body is capable of being affected by online practices in return.

In research on how young people interact online to discuss sensitive topics, interviews with individuals who practice self harm disclose the fact that it is the invisibility of the body in online interaction that allows them to talk more openly and freely (Johansson, 2010:148-55). The topic of self harm seem to highlight and evoke the body in online interaction, yet at the same time it is precisely because the body is experienced as invisible to other individuals that allows for a certain reworking of the body of self harm (ibid). This can be understood as a paradoxical dilemma: although the body is experienced as absent, the material, biological body would nonetheless be affected and implied in a specific online space. A posthumanist framework might be able to shed new light on such a


5 paradoxical relationship, hence why this is chosen as point of departure for an investigation into the body and practices on the internet via the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.

Different theoretical frameworks than posthumanism have been used to argue that the material world is affected by practices in online interaction, and vice versa. Within sociology, Michael Hardey (2002) has posited that online identities (avatars, nicknames, etc.) have consequences for offline identities (gender, ethnicity, etc.), as well as offline identities effecting types of online identities. In line with the posthumanist critique of cyberutopian discourses, Hardey questioned the idea of a disembodied subject who could simply escape gender and other identity markers when entering cyberspace:

“embodied lives, identities and material circumstances of users are themselves significant in affecting patterns of access to and use of the internet” (Hardey, 2002:581). However, Hardey’s sociological perspective (from Anthony Giddens and Erving Goffman) would go in a quite opposite direction than what I aim to propose in this thesis. According to a posthumanist perspective, following Brians (2011) and Braidotti (2006b), it would be problematic to consider a distinction between offline and online identities, since that would, again, re-inscribe a dualism that posthumanist theorist have sought to critique.

The question concerning the body and information technologies can ultimately be traced back to the question of body and mind. By engaging the question of body and mind, one is also engaging in the question of subjectivity. Subjectivity I refer to how we come to constitute ourselves as subjects in the world, and what the conditions are for our sense of self in that world. The question of subjectivity and the relation between mind and body find its contemporary roots in French philosopher René Descartes in the 17th century, when he famously postulated the phrase cogito ergo sum. With the poststructuralist turn in continental Europe in the latter half of the 20th century, massive critique was raised against the Cartesian notion that the human subject was to be found in the mind alone by the power of autonomous thought, the body being only an empty vessel.1

1 That is not to say that other disciplines and philosophical traditions also raised critique against Descartes. I merely intend to show that the philosophical framework I employ here has been one of the major traditions of Cartesian critiques.

The inspiration for this critique was the rising influence of philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Baruch Spinoza in the poststructuralist turn.

Gilles Deleuze, greatly influenced by Nietzsche and Spinoza, set out to reverse the Cartesian notion of subjectivity to turn his attention toward that which produces thought and effectively gives rise to a consciousness that we might call an I or a self. Deleuze’s critique of the phrase “I think, therefore I am” was that it presupposes an “I” that thinks the body and is thus superior to the body (Deleuze, 1994:85). In Spinoza, Deleuze found a parallelism of mind and body: what happens to the mind also happens to the body, and vice versa (Deleuze, 1990:19). In studying subjectivity following Deleuze, one would therefore direct one’s attention to the productions of subjectivity outside of the individual subjects of thought or sociological identities (see Hardey, 2002). That is, it seeks to study the unconscious conditions for subjectivity that may give rise to a conscious subject; the terms “subject”

and “subjectivity” are therefore not to be equated with one another. Following Deleuze’s philosophy against a Cartesian subject, contemporary feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti (2006b:42) has proposed a posthumanist approach in which she argues that both discourse and materiality are entangled with each in the production of subjectivity. The posthumanist stance, she argues, would however go against a strict poststructuralist or postmodernist stance which has rather emphasised discourse and language as constituent factors of subjectivity. Instead she turns specifically to a posthumanist reading of Deleuze in order to consider both materiality and discourse as co-constitutive


6 of subjectivity. Braidotti’s posthumanist approach, inspired by feminist techno-science studies in the vein of Donna Haraway (1991), also takes into account the ever rising development of technologies in society, to consider technologies as constitutive material forces of subjectivity. If we cannot exclude the material world in the productions of subjectivity, in this philosophical tradition, that would also entail the human biological body of the individual subject; the question of the body and technology thus become central for our understanding of subjectivity in contemporary society.

Within studies of technology and subjectivity, Deleuze and Guattari’s (2004) concept of the assemblage has been evoked to think of the co-constituting nature of both material and discursive conditions for subjectivity. Indeed, Braidotti (2006b:37) has called it an entanglement of social codings2 and materiality. David Savat (2010:425) has also linked the concept of the assemblage to understand subjectivity in relation to new technology; that is, the assemblage is what accounts for both social and material aspects in the production of subjectivity that is now implicated in complex formations of technology. This conception of the co-constituting factor of both social and material aspects can also help us view the body of the subject in a different light. I will return to this connection between the assemblage and the body of the subject throughout this thesis, but the following quote from Brians functions as a point of departure for this investigation:

[Deleuze and Guattari] suggest that ‘the body’ is always more than its biological parts or fleshy boundaries. By opening the body beyond the limits of the flesh, to include social and cultural codings, Deleuze and Guattari displace the body from what we traditionally think of as the ‘material’

realm, that of biology, while precisely insisting on its materiality (Brians, 2011:134).

The question I propose in conjunction with this quote is how to study these social and cultural codings.

It seems to me that what needs to be taken into account if we are going to open the body up to more than its biological materiality, then we rigorously need to study the distinction Deleuze and Guattari (2004:95) make between assemblages of bodies and collective assemblages of enunciation outlined in the work A Thousand Plateaus3. As I will attempt to show throughout this thesis, Deleuze also makes this distinction throughout his career. I have taken the concept of the assemblage as a first example of such distinction, and will argue that this distinction follows from his previous work in the book The Logic of Sense4, where a rigorous distinction is made between corporeal causes and incorporeal effects (Deleuze, 2004:7-9). I would also argue that this follows from Deleuze’s ontology in his doctoral thesis Difference and Repetition5

2 Both Brians and Braidotti use the word “code” when referring to social practices. This is influenced by Deleuze and Guattari’s (1983; 2004) use of the word, and implies a whole theoretical exposition that will not occupy this thesis. Instead, when I read Brians and Braidotti I substitute the word “code” or “coding” for “social” and/or

“discourse” as it pertains more to the problem I present here.

between actual things or state of affairs, and virtual ideas or possibilities (Deleuze, 1994:208-9, 260; Williams, 2003:7-8). By considering posthumanism in the vein of Braidotti (2006b), I believe it is fruitful to combine this posthumanist account of the co- constitution of materiality and discourse with a methodological approach that studies the relation between these distinctions in any given assemblage.

3 Originally published in the French as Mille Plateaux in 1980, translated into the English in 1987, referring to the 2004 English edition.

4 Originally published in the French as Logique du Sens in 1969, translated into the English in 1990, referring to the 2004 English edition.

5 Originally published in the French as Différence et Répétition in 1969, translated into the English in 1994, referring to the 1994 English edition.


7 The field, or assemblage, in this thesis will be concerned with an online message board forum for self harm support. I chose this field because it consists largely of what I would propose are collective assemblages of enunciations, and thus my emphasis on the distinction from that of bodies and materiality. The topic of self harm highlights the material body significantly within these texts, and it is by taking into account a posthumanist reading of Deleuze by Braidotti (2006b) and other feminist studies of body and technology that we may also come to understand the role of the body in these practices of collective assemblages of enunciation.

When discussing subjectivity in posthumanist literature, as well as by Deleuze and Guattari themselves, two words are continuingly ever present: production and transformation. Again, I will build an account of these two terms by considering the distinction between the assemblages of bodies and assemblages of enunciation, where production is given to the former and transformation given to latter (Deleuze & Guattari, 2004). There is a complex interplay between these two that function in conjunction with each other. The general understanding of it can be summed up by saying that bodies produce enunciations that transform these bodies in turn, allowing them to produce something new.

Productions of subjectivity were also of central concern for Guattari (1995) himself who linked it specifically to new media and information technologies. This I believe further acknowledges the importance of employing Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy to subjectivity, body, and technology, with an emphasis on the practices of written text that so depend on forms of semiotic productions (Guattari, 1995:36-7) that transform our subjectivities in new ways.

Transformation is thus a central concept for this thesis: it is a question of how to get from one state to the other by the process of transformation; the two states as such are therefore not of primary importance, but rather the process in between which effectuates each state. It is also here that I place my pedagogical problem. The problem is transformation, and pedagogy, as I view it and employ it here, is the very process of transformation, or transformation as process. Subjectivity, when viewed as a process of transformation, is, for me, a pedagogical problem. It is a question of “learning” in the sense of being transformed by pedagogical relations in a field of existence, and also of producing these transformations by the use of practices extending beyond anthropocentric structures to consider the wider complexes of which “we” are only a part. Learning, as the transformation of subjectivity, is not within this theoretical framework merely considered a cognitive issue, or a process that only takes place in consciousness. Learning and pedagogy can also be considered as a question and problem of worlds. It is a question of what is possible in this world, not what is possible solely within the mind of the individual subject. What is more, the individual mind, or rather, psyche, is this world where transformations are made possible. This leads to ethical consequences for a pedagogy of worlds and transformation, and begs the questions of (1) of what world is the transformation part of, and (2) is this even a world, or a structure closing the world off? In the third section of this thesis I will engage these ethical considerations further. Suffice it to say that the pedagogical relations theorised as productions and transformations of subjectivity are of central concern which raises ethical question beyond an anthropocentric world to a world of relations, beyond intention. Pedagogy as truly posthuman, that is what this thesis sets out to investigate.

I therefore aim for this thesis to primarily be a theoretical investigation. That is, the research focus and questions are primarily of a theoretical concern in order to develop new ways to theorise on the relationship between the body, subjectivity and practices of written text on the internet. This


8 theoretical investigation is done in a process of close engagement with empirical material of the message board forum for self harm support, as the connection between theory and empirical material will make the theorisation more productive and clear. The empirical material produces new understandings and new theories that can also inform the theoretical and philosophical framework in return. As a consequence, the thesis does not follow the traditional structure within the social sciences.

Instead, I attempt to synthesise the philosophical framework by continuingly intertwine the theoretical exposition of Deleuze, and Deleuze and Guattari, with the empirical material generated on the specific message board forum. This constitutes my analysis and occupies the three sections titled “To Transform”. In order to do this, I will attempt to sketch out a hermeneutic methodology in the section

“Studying Transformations” that I believe can be extracted from the concept of the assemblage as outlined by Deleuze and Guattari in the work A Thousand Plateaus. Hermeneutics, as I understand it and employ it here, is not be thought of in the line of Gadamer and Ricoeur, but rather something entirely different derived from Deleuze’s study of Nietzsche (Deleuze, 1983). This hermeneutic approach is inspired by Ian Buchanan (2000) and Fredric Jameson (1983), who has suggested that Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, primarily in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, offer new ways to interpret text, which is of significant concern for this thesis that largely relies on empirical material consisting of texts.

This investigation is built on the conundrum of parallel realities and distinctions, of the physical and metaphysical, but applied to an empirical field and analysis of everyday life in contemporary western society. The quote from Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami that started off this thesis establishes a metaphysical field, metaphysical as in elaborations on the physical, movements and events which happen to the physical, yet still in a different dimension than the physical itself. It establishes the possibility for entering into this metaphysical space to experience the cuts of a thousand razor blades, no matter how metaphysical they might be, they are still real and will make you bleed regardless of their meta-physicality. Murakami himself also opens the novel Kafka on the Shore with a brief, almost schizophrenic inner monologue/dialogue (think Tolkien’s Gollum rather than Beckett’s Molloy/Moran) in which the quote presented above is highlighted in bold font. “The Boy named Crow”, as this prologue is called, is the boy living inside and around the protagonist Kafka Tamura telling him these words as a primer to the events that will later unfold. The boy named Crow can be said to inhabit the incorporeal, metaphysical field adjacent to the corporeal physical field that is Kafka in his body. And this metaphysical field is violent, or at least capable of affecting the body of Kafka despite its being metaphysical; that is, the incorporeal can transform the corporeal.

I then presented a largely enigmatic quote from Deleuze and Guattari that speaks of self-destructions that have nothing to do with the death drive.6

6 This concept is “the body without organs” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1983). Even though it pertains perfectly to the problem of the body and self harm, it does so on other terms than in a methodological study between language and body in a social field. I have chosen to not include this concept in my analysis as I believe the concept of the assemblage is more suited for discussions of this sort.

The subject matter of that quote, however, speaks more of a way to live an ethical life than of self harming or destructive practices per say, of which I am concerned with here. By connecting these two quotes together however, their relation produces something entirely new and more relevant for this thesis; or, in fact, it is the problems of this thesis that enter into the relation between the two quotes above: the metaphysical field of which we may posit practices on the internet, the blood in this field that relates to the message board forum for self harm, and a way for the body to open itself up and transform these self-destructive practices into


9 something new and positive; a way out through the blood in the metaphysical field. Perhaps Haruki Murakami’s literature has gained such popularity because it engages with the notion of paradoxical parallel realities that might speak of some fundamental changes in our social world today, brought on by the infusion of information technologies into our everyday lives. Murakami’s literature is not a fetishism of some disembodied virtual reality evident in cyberutopian discourses. What has happened since the advent of the internet is something entirely different: we haven’t left our bodies behind and instead have come to terms with the fact that such fantasies will remain perverted fantasies. Yet something has undoubtedly happened to our bodies. Perhaps Murakami’s works speaks for this realistic uncertainty of where to place our bodies in these times of information technologies, and I also believe that the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari can make us view this uncertainty in different ways from what we are used to.

Research focus

The problem outlined above of how to think the body in relation to subjectivity and information technologies has been greatly theorised within posthumanism primarily by Braidotti (2006a; 2006b), Brians (2011), Brophy (2010), Haraway (1991) and Hayles (1999; 2006). The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze has been an influence for emphasising an entanglement of the body and social discourse against a transcendence of mind over body (Braidotti, 2006b:37; Brians, 2011:130). This has been done by employing Deleuze and Guattari’s (2004) concept of the assemblage (Savat, 2010). However, posthumanist theorists have largely overlooked the rigorous distinction Deleuze and Guattari (2004:95) make between the machinic assemblage of bodies and the collective assemblage of enunciation. I will attempt to argue that both these kinds of assemblages are needed to take into account the productions and transformations of subjectivity concerning the body and technology, with specific emphasis on the latter.

The aim of this thesis is therefore to investigate the productions and transformations of subjectivity between corporeal bodies and incorporeal enunciations of written text in an online message board forum about self harm. In other words, the aim is to understand how productions of subjectivity may theoretically transform the human biological body by practices of written text in an online message board forum by using the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Concerning the broader problem outlined above between posthumanism and the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, four research questions can be worked out:

1. How can the subjectivity of self harm be transformed in practices of written text in an online message board forum?

2. How is subjectivity produced in an online message board forum, and how can it be identified?

3. How can we understand the relationship between the assemblages of bodies and assemblages of enunciation in an online environment?

4. How can we understand the concept of the body in relation to practices of written text in an online environment?

The questions are in hierarchal order where the latter question is seeking grounds for the former. The first question encapsulates the broad focus of the thesis; the second question specifies the broad theoretical framework and directs it to an empirical enquiry that can answer the first; the third question deepens this framework by further specifying theoretical concepts that can answer the second question; and since the theoretical framework employed and problem sketched out concerns the body,


10 this is taken as the fourth and final question to give grounds for the proceeding questions and broader focus. The analysis and philosophical exposition is then ordered accordingly the other way around. I will begin by discussing the body in the fourth question, then relate this to the concept of the assemblage and also to the terms production and transformation, in order to pave way for the first overarching question which also concerns the broader focus of the thesis. The concluding discussion will also follow this structure, starting with the fourth question and working its way up to address the focus and problems addressed here.

Concerning disposition, I will first lay out a background and previous studies to show how posthumanism has dealt with subjectivity, body and technology by using the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari. Here I will go into more detail concerning the compatibilities and incompatibilities between the two fields in order to argue for the turn I instead suggest within the philosophy of Deleuze to engage the questions posed in this thesis. I will then present the specific methodology I propose that takes into account the distinction between bodies and enunciation within Deleuze’s philosophy. This is a theory-method approach in which I aim to extract a method out of the philosophy employed with the empirical material. Thirdly, I will present my theoretical-empirical synthesis where a greater account is given of Deleuze’s philosophy in conjunction with my empirical material. I start with Deleuze’s relation to the concept of the body to understand the grounds for thinking the body in relation to subjectivity and technology. After lying out that ground, I proceed to give an account of the concept of the assemblage as worked out by Deleuze and Guattari in the work A Thousand Plateaus, specifically concerning the distinction they make between bodies and enunciation. This lead to the concluding theoretical-empirical exposition where I wish to apply an ethical perspective derived from Deleuze’s use of the concept of expression, the virtual and a re-working of the notion of the Other as constructed by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition. Finally, I sum up my investigation to answer the research focus and questions in a concluding discussion where I will propose a different theory of the virtual with regard to information technologies from the philosophy of Deleuze, related to my empirical analysis.

Posthumanism and Deleuze – Bodies in new spaces

In order to answer the questions raised above, we need to consider how posthumanism has theorised on the matter of the body and technology in greater detail, in what constitutes the prior researches this thesis takes as point of departure. That is, what does the relationship between the human biological body and new technologies entail for the productions of subjectivity from a posthumanist perspective?

As mentioned above, a cyberutopian discourse that proposes the liberation of the mind over the body re-inscribes the idea of a transcendent subject that would go against the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (Brians, 2011). Instead, when addressing the issue of productions of subjectivity, feminist posthumanism find in Deleuze and Guattari a materialism of body, technology and social codes (e.g.

discourse) that would take into account the actual materiality of the body without proposing a transcendence of the mind. The question is how posthumanism has conceived of such theorisation. I believe it is within this tradition we can more acutely see how the employment of a Deleuzian philosophy would distant itself from other studies done in the field of body, technology and subjectivity (that is, against narratives and identity constructions evident in sociological and ethnological researches). This section will mainly be occupied by a discussion on posthumanism in regards to the theorisations of Rosi Braidotti, Donna Haraway and N. Katherine Hayles. Some of these


11 previous researches specifically use the philosophy of Deleuze as a critique of a subjectivity built on a mind-body dualism; this critique however takes various forms, and I will attempt to sketch out how these critiques work and with what aspects of Deleuze’s philosophy that has been used to argue for such critiques.

Rosi Braidotti (1996;2006a;2006b), as well as feminist theory in the vein of Donna Haraway (1991), have proposed a form of posthumanism which puts the body in a complex relation with a material and discursive world for understanding subjectivity. For Braidotti and Haraway, this kind of materialism would not only question the fact that knowledge has been built on a conception of humanity as a transcendent mind over the body, but also to step out of what we think we know about what it means to be human in terms of the materiality of the body. Effectively, Haraway fused the human body with technology to form her concept of the cyborg. According to Braidotti (2006a:197) Haraway emphasises that any theory of subjectivity must take into account the biology and materiality of the body; a break with the distinction of humanity and technology, and instead thinking the two as co- constitutive for subjectivity.7 Braidotti (ibid) states the following of the connection between Haraway, the posthuman condition and technology: “in the historical era of advanced postmodernity, the very notion of ‘the human’ is not only de-stabilized by technologically mediated social relations in a globally connected world, but it is also thrown open to contradictory redefinitions of what exactly counts as human.” Although I will not specifically follow Braidotti (2006b) in a theorisation of a posthuman nomadic ethics,8 she does point out the role of the body in connection to contemporary technologies as ultimately compromised of a complex and paradoxical network:

The representation and interpretation of techno-bodies therefore expresses fully the paradox of the contemporary subject, namely of a body that is invaded by technology, is bombarded by visual bits and bytes of information but also feels horror, pain and despair at these fundamental invasions of what used to be called his or her bodily integrity. Methodologically, the return of the “real body” in its thick materiality spells the end of the linguistic turn in the sense of the postmodernist over- emphasis on textuality, representation, interpretation and the power of the signifier. (Braidotti, 2006b:50).

I would like to take Braidotti reasoning here as point of departure for theorising on the importance of the body and technological mediated social relations, as I focus on the specific practices within these social relations that to a very large extent is mediated by ways of written text. In her definition of the posthuman, which I am following here, we cannot think of subjectivity as solely a linguistic or discursive practice or place too much importance on a subject-centred interpretation of text; the body and the material world also play a fundamental part in this co-constitution of contemporary subjectivity. Braidotti (ibid:30) also argues that information technologies and biotechnologies are

“equally co-present in driving home the spectacular effects of contemporary technological transformations”. My emphasis is not on what Braidotti calls bio-technologies9

7 I will not be discussing or using the concept of the cyborg in detail, but it is central as an historical background on body and technology.

but rather on what she

8 Indeed, Ian Buchanan (2011:9-10) has recently criticised Braidotti among others for taking Deleuze and Guattari’s explanation of how desire works for how life and society ought to be; they confuse, Buchanan says, this “ought” from what Deleuze and Guattari theorised as that which simply is.

9 This term is strongly linked in Braidotti’s reasoning to Haraway’s cyborg; bio-technologies therefore refer to technology that somehow is materially inserted or is operating materially on and in our biological bodies; pace makers, prosthetics, etc.


12 calls information technologies. I follow Braidotti (ibid) in that “All technologies have a strong ‘bio- power’ effect, in that they affect bodies and immerse them in social relations of power, inclusion and exclusion”. For the purposes of this thesis, it is not of interest to discuss bio-technologies and cyborg- ism (in the sense of the term Braidotti uses here, as well as Haraway’s definition of it) for a discussion on social media and information technologies concerned with written text. It seems as though the quote above encapsulates perfectly my entire problematic enquire where a question will be raised concerning the concept of the cyborg in another context than a bio-technological one.

The concept of the cyborg has however come under scrutiny even within posthumanist theory that instead employs the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari in theorising about the body and technology in relation to subjectivity. Diane Currier (2003) took Haraway’s concept of the cyborg to critique by invoking precisely Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the assemblage. The critique is aimed at Haraway’s dualism of body-technology, which Currier argues is essentially a humanistic view of the world that doesn’t break up the composition or the organisation of the terms “body” and “technology”, which she argues a Deleuzian approach would and is necessary to move away from Cartesian dualisms. Instead, she finds in the concept of the assemblage this breaking up of substances in favour of a multiplicity that already functions within the terms themselves. However, when considering the importance Deleuze places on relations themselves,10

10 When considering the concept of the rhizome, Deleuze and Guattari (2004:23) specifically state that it is made up of lines instead of points. This, in my view, has to be considered in light of the importance of the relations themselves as between two terms. Deleuze and Parnet (2006:41) take the example of a glass and a table and say that neither term is changed when altering the relation, either by placing the glass on the table or moving it off the table. In what might be directed at what they see as misunderstandings of their philosophy on part of their own followers, Deleuze and Parnet (ibid) insist that “One may object that the glass is perhaps altered when it is moved off the table, but that is not true. The ideas of the glass and the table, which are the true terms of the relations, are not altered. Relations are in the middle, and exist as such.” It would however be of importance to note that this “dialogue” between Deleuze and Parnet was published in 1977, three years before Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille Plateaux in which the concept of the assemblage is worked out properly; it is therefore quite plausible that Deleuze changed his view of the “assemblage”, “relation” and “terms” between these two books.

There are on the other hand evidence to support that he did not, when considering, for example, the importance Deleuze and Guattari (2004:28) places on relations themselves as independent and their “perpendicular direction”. Also, to go back to the dialogues with Claire Parnet, we see the concept of the assemblage contrasted against psychoanalysis (Deleuze & Parnet, 2006:51-2) and with striking similarities to Deleuze and Guattari’s theorisations of it three years later. It would also be of interest to consider the theorisation in the Dialogues with Claire Parnet to be an echo of Deleuze’s first book ever published in 1953, Empiricism and Subjectivity: an essay on Hume’s theory of Human Nature. In the translator’s introduction to the English edition, Constantin V.

Boundas opens with a quote precisely from the dialogues between Deleuze and Parnet, a quote which emphasises the “middle” (Deleuze, 1991:1) and the “externality of relations” (ibid:7); Deleuze himself also repeatedly emphasises that “Relations are external to their terms” (ibid:98-101).

and specifically points out that the terms of the relation do not change themselves (Deleuze & Parnet, 2006:41), the terms “body” and “technology”

would remain intact as they are the terms constituting the necessary relationship to begin with. It is therefore difficult to follow Currier’s (2003:31) assessment that “Technology does not meet body” in a Deleuzian philosophy. By that same token, it is also difficult to understand Deleuze’s philosophy as two seemingly opposed propositions can be found in his work: one pertains to a breaking up of dualisms in favour of more complex composition of “multiplicities”, while the other proposition would have the two terms of the relation intact in favour of the exteriority of the relation itself. I believe however we can arrive at a compromise, and it is this: we should take both aspects into account when faced with an example such as “body” and “technology”, such that the terms themselves remain but also so that the relation between the two is given priority, thus constituting the multiplicity of and the assemblage that we want to arrive at as essentially made up of “lines” and not points. I will


13 go into detail about this further on. It is sufficient for the moment to show that Deleuze and Guattari have been of interest for studies on technology and subjectivity concerning the body, and that the concept of the assemblage has been evoked to view subjectivity in a new light as our human biological bodies are entered into new relationships with technology. However, studies employing what Deleuze and Guattari termed collective assemblages of enunciation have been largely overlooked in a posthumanist discourse.

Although Braidotti (2006b:37) seems to be perfectly in line with my enquiry, studying the relationship between body and technology with the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, Braidotti does put emphasis on materiality while at the same time postulating Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy is a

“recognition of the entanglement of material, bio-cultural and symbolic forces in the making of the subject.” This sort of account of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy is in my view a rather simplified notion of the complex relation between corporeal bodies and materiality, and incorporeal transformations Deleuze and Guattari (2004) call collective assemblages of enunciation. As I will attempt to show throughout this thesis, Deleuze and Guattari make a clear distinction between materiality and language, or what they refer to as enunciation. What I want to emphasise is that Deleuze, alone and together with Guattari, is always ready to make distinctions between different forms that can be said to constitute subjectivity. It is such a distinction, that between the collective assemblages enunciation and assemblage of bodies, that I want to investigate further in this thesis.

However, posthumanism, which has discussed the body and technology and the implications of their relations for the productions of subjectivity, serves as a background to such a discussion, given its important philosophical and ethical strides in the field. The main issue for me is to emphasise instead collective assemblages of enunciation in an empirical field, the practices of written text on an online message board forum.

Concerning posthumanist subjectivity in regards to information technology, text, and the body, N.

Katherine Hayles is a philosophical figure with whom one would have to engage with since her body of work has covered great lengths in that field. Her approach focuses specifically on text and computerised information. Also she criticises Haraway’s cyborg and pertains to a move beyond or towards a distribution of subjectivity and cognition that are “more far-reaching than the figure of the cyborg allows” (Hayles, 2006:160). Instead, Hayles puts forth what she calls “cognisphere” where not just human minds are connected together by a network of relations but also computers; we thus come to share our minds in a new collective “sphere” of thoughts, or what Hayles calls “distributed cognition”. Hayles argues that this has consequences for subjectivity and everyday life:

More subtle are the changes in subjectivity that the cognisphere is bringing about. Shifts in reading practices suggest a movement from deep attention to hyperattention; incorporation of intelligent machines into everyday practices creates distributed cognitive systems that include human and non- human actors; distributed cognition in turn is linked to a dispersed sense of self, with human awareness acting as the limited resource that artificial cognitive systems help to preserve and extend.

(Hayles, 2006:162).

At first glance, Hayles’ project seems fitting for this thesis. She discusses the biological body and information technologies with emphasis on the virtual, in a direction “toward embodied virtuality”

(Hayles, 1999:1) in which she calls the construction of subjectivity that which doesn’t entail a material fusion of biology and technology, but instead a questioning of the conditions for this embodiment


14 when information technologies places the body outside of immediate experience of interaction; and it is this aspect that she deems posthuman (ibid:4)11 where the body is now compromised, not left behind by a mind that floats out into cyberspace, but placed in a new intimate relationship with text and

“virtual space”. Hayles project may be of interest as an empirical backdrop, but is unfortunately largely irrelevant for a Deleuzian philosophical approach. As I will attempt to show, a Deleuzian approach will be concerned with unconscious12 productions of subjectivity, rather than cognition.

Again, I will go into detail on the relation between the body and the unconscious further on when specifically discussing Deleuze’s philosophy, but both Braidotti and Hayles serves as points of departure for the importance and contribution of a posthumanist discourse on the body and technology regarding changes in subjectivity, be it in a material sense concerning bio-power of new technologies or a cognitive sense concerning text and virtual embodiment.

Yet it is precisely this complicated problematisation that I will attempt to sketch out in the theoretical section to follow. How can we understand “embodied virtuality”, and what does it mean for subjectivity to be bodily constructed by information technologies that philosophically doesn’t separate the mind from the body? Even though the framework developed by Hayles serves no immediate purpose for this thesis, it does point to a problematisation of body and technology, as well as body and text (Hayles, 1999:29). But the problem as I see it in these previous researches is that importance is placed on “the body as mediated” instead of “the body as mediated”. It is this mediation13 that I wish to explore, the conditions for it and the implications of it. We are undoubtedly dealing with a multiplicity of bodies and materiality in different forms, but we cannot stipulate a correspondence of change and transformation on either sides (the biological body corresponding to the technological body, the textual body, the representative body, etc.), nor make the two sides converge in on each other, within a Deleuzian framework. The rest of this thesis will make this paradoxical relationship of central concern and leave the question open for investigation, perhaps to arrive at a conclusion where both sides can be accounted for in themselves.

We remain however, for the moment, within the critique posthumanist theory has posited against a separation of body and mind within discourses on information technology. Around the internet first became available to the general public there was a rise of what Brophy (2010) has called discourses on

“cyberutopia”. As I have shown in the introduction, it was stipulated within cyberutopian discourses

11 On this very page however, Hayles gives an erroneous account, in my view, of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the body without organs. This suggests her distance from the philosophical framework I wish to employ in this thesis, but Hayles nevertheless deserves to be discussed as a background to the problem I wish to explore, albeit in a different theoretical light.

12 The unconscious for Deleuze and Guattari (1983) is the productive and completely positive field of desire in the human psyche; that is, it doesn’t mean anything in particular except being the productive and creative force we all find ourselves being driven by. In contrast to Freud, who believed the unconscious to contain prohibited thoughts and ideas that were repressed by the preconscious (pressure from the unconscious “up” toward the conscious that the preconscious represses, thus giving rise to feelings of anxiety), Deleuze and Guattari (ibid:129; 338) view ideas and conscious thoughts as applying pressure or inhibit the productive forces of the unconscious. The unconscious is seen by Deleuze and Guattari as actual and doesn’t contain anything that can be adequately represented by virtual ideas. Conscious thoughts and ideas do not represent the unconscious, but it is rather the unconscious which is the actual production for certain thoughts and ideas.

13 The term “mediate” is unfortunate to employ in relation to a Deleuzian philosophy. As I will argue further on, Deleuze’s philosophy would critique any form of mediation in the favour of the power of expression to separate itself from its content and become something entirely different on its own accord. The implications of the “body as mediated” would thus be understood on the grounds that it impossible for anything to remotely be considered as being mediated in the first place.


15 that we could finally be free of our bodily limitations and escape out into a “virtual reality”. Brophy (2010:933) argues however that the notion of a cyberutopia reinforces the mind/body dualism of a Cartesian character. She takes up the schism between body and language, but puts emphasis on the materiality of the body in her assessment: “material elements of the ‘real world’ are inherently bound up in and with technologies of the virtual” (ibid). This approach goes against a social constructivism that she argues privileges language in the production of subjectivity (ibid:936). Brophy instead turns to Grosz’s account of a Spinozist understanding of the mind and body, and also Butler’s theory on performativity. Brophy (ibid:937-8) then uses the synthesis of Spinoza-Grosz-Butler to accompany physicist and feminist theorist Karen Barad’s ontology of “intra-activity” and builds this on the notion that “One cannot engage in, on or with the medium without one’s body”. Again, in a similar vein as Braidotti, Haraway and Hayles, Brophy’s emphasis is on materiality and the body. If Brophy puts forth a theory of the body and technology in a discourse on materiality using as grounds for this a chronological synthesis of Spinoza-Grosz-Butler-Barad, then I wish to instead explore the conditions for the body as ultimately compromised in a medium where studies have shown that it is the absence of the body in direct communication that enables new forms of interaction (Johansson, 2010:148-55).

We might follow the materialist account given by Brophy as well as Currier (2003) and agree that the body is implicated in enunciating practices online where the body is discussed extensively (e.g. the topic of self harm, Johansson, 2010), yet I would beg to question whether or not such an account gives us methodological credence to study how the is implicated and transformed by enunciating practices;

and what is we react and respond to online? How are we to be corporeally affected if our communication is mediated and our bodies not directly given in interaction? What I find in Deleuze is a theory that complicates the schism between mind and body, or body and language, that I believe addresses this question of the problem of the body in communication that is dependent on enunciations of written text; and this is by the concept of the assemblage.

Brians (2011) has furthermore directed critique against various discourses on cyberutopia (which she also argues reinforces the mind-body dualism or at least the transcendence of mind over body) and argues for a cyber-corporeality through Deleuze’s philosophy. Nevertheless, in similar manner of Brophy and Currier, she focuses on the materiality of the body (ibid:117-8). Brians expresses the wish to maintain a Deleuzian discourse and suggests “there are good reasons for maintaining fidelity to Deleuze’s materialism and his repeated rejection of any transcendent worldview”. 14 She also wishes to locate Deleuze’s thought exclusively in one side of what she presents as two discourses on cyber theory: one which argues for a transcendence of the mind over body into a “virtual reality”; and the other which argues for a posthumanist materialism, which would be occupied by Deleuze according to Brians (ibid:118-9). I would instead beg to question positioning Deleuze on either side of such debate, and instead leave the question open to investigate if there is not indeed aspects of Deleuze’s philosophy that would also seem to complement a posthumanist materialism proposed by Brians (ibid) and Braidotti (2006a;2006b).

14 This ignores the fact that Deleuze’s first published work in 1959 presented a theory on “transcendental empiricism”. Of course, Deleuze’s thought and notion of this underwent many changes since then, but there are few scholar’s, particularly within posthumanist discourses, who deal with this side of Deleuze. Instead, often enough a “materialism” is hailed as opposed to a dominant transcendental thought. Such a debate is not of interest for this thesis however, as is why I chose to present a background on this debate as a stance for me to take before exploring my own enquiry.


16 Brians (2011) does however approach Deleuze with similar interests as I do: on the body in terms of affects and force as well as his ontology of the actual and the virtual where emphasis is placed on the virtual.15

The body and its incorporeality

Brians doesn’t however take into account how Deleuze’s philosophy may be of help regarding the way information technologies are reliant on written text for communication. Of course, pictures are a big part of the internet as well as digital materiality in general and possibilities for video broadcasting, etc., but this does not omit the fact that written text and language still plays such a large role in our practices of everyday life, something an emphasis on materiality, biology and neuroscience (ibid:139) perhaps fail to sufficiently take into account. I do not wish to dismiss Brians important discussion on Deleuze and the body regarding information technologies, but the question concerning written text and enunciation needs to complement this important research emphasising the materiality of the body and how it is transformed by these new technologies. But that does not mean that we shouldn’t also consider his emphasis on the distinction between bodies and enunciations (or, language), and his theorisations of what enunciations have for kind of effects on us.

One of Deleuze’s (1994) concepts that have been vigorously used when discussing the body and subjectivity in internet discourses is the concept of the virtual. Brians (2011) has emphasised the concept not be confused with a “virtual reality” (as within a cyberutopian discourses, where the virtual is seen as a kind of transcendence of mind over body, and the body is seen as a burden and limitation;

or even for a virtualisation of the material world) but rather as a field of potential and possibilities16 to happen to actual state of things; the concept does not concern a distinction between a “real world” and a “virtual world”, as the virtual is as much real as the actual (Deleuze, 1994:208).17 Marks (2006:205- 6) has pointed out one particular case in which French media theorist and philosopher Pierre Lévy has used Deleuze’s philosophy to argue for a “virtualisation of the body” in which, in light of previous discussion on posthumanism, the realisation of the body goes from a actual state of material things to a virtual state in a digital field. The problem with this sort of account of Deleuze’s ontology, as Marks goes on to show, is that despite its ambition to provide a “reality” of the virtual, it nevertheless posits a dichotomy of reality between an actual material field and a virtual digital field on the internet, and understands the former as grounded in physical materiality and the latter as a disembodied existence, or a transcendent existence; and it is exactly this problem that Marks (ibid:206) points to within cyberutopian discourses using Deleuze’s philosophy that has to be over-bridge.18

15 These concepts will be dealt with further on, yet they are important to mention this early on to present the background and previous research concerning Deleuze, the body and technology.

When Braidotti (2006b) posits subjectivity as essentially corporeal and relates this to information technologies, we can view the body as being affected and compromised in a digital network of affects, the body now

16 These terms are however precisely the terms Deleuze sought to critique by instead invoking the concept of the virtual. I use these terms here as a nominal introduction to the concept, as Deleuze (1994:260) himself also used the word “possible” to convey the meaning of his use of the term “virtual”. In the concluding sections of this thesis however, a more rigorous and thorough explanation of the concept will be discussed.

17 In the theoretical section to follow I will more clearly explain these concepts in the philosophy of Deleuze;

they are, however, impossible not the mention this early on for an understanding of the background and previous researches into the topic.

18 The only process of reality for Deleuze is a process of actualisation and never a “virtualisation” (Deleuze, 1994:207-8;251). Practices on the internet are as much actual as they are virtual, as real as any material reality.

Yet I clearly wish to place emphasis on the concept of the virtual in regards to information technologies, as well as question if practices are corporeal when engage with such technologies. We will explore this complex relationship in the later stages of this thesis.


17 entering into relationships that form new capacities of being affected; but what we miss in such a discussion is the necessary parallelism of body and language, or enunciation, that is essential for all of Deleuze’s philosophy. In short, what needs to also be accounted for is the incorporeal in and around our corporeality if we are to have a Deleuzian approach, without falling into the traps of cyberutopian discourses by placing the actual on the body itself and the virtual on digital technologies. I will explore this theoretical relationship between the actual and the virtual (see note 16 above) in the third analytical section as well as the concluding discussion to answer my research questions.

Brain Massumi (2002) took this incorporeal problem of the body and subjectivity to be the task of a ten year project, after translating Deleuze and Guattari’s monumental Mille Plateaux to English: to theorize the body with movement, not as a positioning or solely material entity (an essential corporeality), but as thinking the body with movement. He saw it as no other way out, the corporeality of the body with the incorporeality of movement, a paradoxical relationship that is the very foundation for a production of subjectivity. Within feminist theory we can also find this turn towards the incorporeal. Claire Colebrook (2000) critiqued contemporary feminist theory to overemphasise the body and materiality, and instead employed Deleuze’s philosophy in a way sympathetic with the move this thesis presents: “If corporeality has been traditionally associated with what is substantively removed from mind, in order to establish mind as a separate substance, what needs to achieved is not the embodiment of mind but the de-corporealization of existence, including the body” (Colebrook, 2000:39). She goes on to warn against an overemphasis on corporeality that excludes the forces of the body (ibid:40), and relates this to a problem of ethics that has to be re-evaluated in regards to information technologies and the mass media:

What needs to be addressed, though, is neither the propriety of corporeality, nor the liberation into the virtual, but the gap between the two. This would mean that ethics is not a question of deciding the proper relation between the real and virtual, but in each case questioning the event of the incorporeal. What is the force of this particular incorporeal event – this image, this sense, this gaze and this representation? (Colebrook, 2000:42).

This quote can be seen as a springboard for the problems and questions presented in this thesis. Such an approach calls into question an ethics that has to think in terms of an immanent parallelism between language and body, an ethics of the virtual that at once dismisses cyberutopia as well as an emphasis on corporeality (against Brophy, Currier and Brians), and turns toward questioning the “the event of the incorporeal” that puts mass media at the heart of subjectivity, as Félix Guattari (1995:4) has said.

Guattari took contemporary technologies to be of central concern for what he also called the productions of subjectivity, and this notion of production can be linked to Deleuze and Guattari’s (1983) concept of the unconscious as a machine of production (against Hayles’ “cognisphere”). This is later echoed when Guattari (ibid) postulates that technologies and productions subjectivity works “not only within its memory and intelligence, but also within its sensibility, affects and unconscious fantasms.” This is also what we are occupied with in this thesis: how technology can be viewed, not in isolation or in and of itself, but rather as within a machine (not a “technological machine”, but rather as something productive and functioning), this machine now not only distributing and transforming our consciousness, but also transforming our capacity for feelings, our bodily capacities to be affected by other bodies in mediated spaces; in short, our unconscious that is the production of the forces and affects of the body. But Guattari did not believe “the body” per say to be of central concern for


18 productions of subjectivity with the advent of new “complexes” of technology and social formation, he rather saw “corporeality” as something that needed to change:

These complexes actually offer people diverse possibilities for recomposing their existential corporeality, to get out of their repetitive impasses and, in a certain way, to resingularise themselves.

Grafts of transference operate in this way, not issuing from ready-made dimensions of subjectivity crystallised into structural complexes, but from a creation which itself indicates a kind of aesthetic paradigm. One creates new modalities of subjectivity in the same way an artist creates new forms from the palette (Guattari, 1995:7).

Technologies, or technological complexes, were, in this quote, seen by Guattari as immense potentials for reconfiguring our subjectivities by “getting out of” or corporeal repetitions of habit in everyday life. He seems, along with Deleuze, to emphasise and priorities that which is in some way not corporeal; priority is given to practices that always move out of our corporeal existence, to not be fixed by the current state we find ourselves in. But subjectivity, in light of feminist theory and posthumanism, must also take into account its corporeal conditions and materiality of existence; this theoretical impasse, as it were, seems oddly paradoxical. On the one hand, Deleuze and Guattari have inspired a posthumanism that critiques Cartesian dualisms, and on the other hand we see Deleuze and Guattari themselves continually priorities that which is not corporeal, but rather that which sets the corporeal in motion. How are we to account for these paradoxes of subjectivity, where we are at once grounded in our body as well as when our body is only the result of movement and affects? Returning to the studies of Brian Massumi, one of his main points is that the body has to be affected by something other than the body itself, and these are the affects and forces around and within it that forms and conditions the movements of the body; they are inseparable from the body and define any given body, but are not the body itself:

The charge of indeterminacy carried by a body is inseparable from it. It strictly coincides with it, to the extent that the body is in passage or in process (to the extent that it is dynamic and alive). But the charge is not itself corporeal. Far from regaining a concreteness, to think the body in movement thus means accepting the paradox that there is an incorporeal dimension of the body. Of it, but not it.

Real, material, but incorporeal (Massumi, 2002:5).

The body understood in relation to movement then is in this instance first characterised by a spatial order of parallel “sides”: one corporeal, the other incorporeal. But movement is also, according to a Deleuzian philosophy (following Immanuel Kant) subordinate to time, which abruptly puts emphasis on the incorporeal side and prioritises it as the dominant force, or active force in relation to the reactive body which is carried along with no real agency of its own. Agency however, is an unfortunate term to use in this instance, as Massumi clarifies how we can understand the relationship between the corporeal and incorporeal as a parallelism instead of an hierarchy of forces:

One way of starting to get a grasp on the real-material-but-incorporeal is to say it is to the body, as a positioned thing, as energy is to matter. Energy and matter are mutually convertible modes of the same reality. This would make the incorporeal something like a phase-shift of the body in the usual sense, but not one that comes after it in time. It would be a conversion or unfolding of the body contemporary to its every move (ibid).


19 This not only shows how the incorporeal time and corporeal space is parallel each other, but also that the incorporeal is “contemporary” to the body’s materiality. However, Massumi specifically says that the incorporeal does not come after the body, but he leaves out the question of whether it comes before the body, such that a clear priority would be given to the incorporeal. It does seem however as though his whole project leans toward such a direction, but I would leave such questions unanswered and remain within a contemporary parallelism between each sides. Massumi (2002:30-1) also connects the body with the virtual, as we’ve seen has been done in previous research, but he does it not to evoke a philosophical hierarchy of materiality over transcendence. He does however, use the term body- subject (ibid:3), since he still makes it clear that there is no transcendence of mind over body, but rather a parallelism where the subject is the body in its incorporeality. I will therefore use the term body-subject throughout this thesis. I will also show how “the subject” can only be corporeal in a Deleuzian philosophy. For Deleuze, as I hope to make clear further on, the subject is neither the central organ of agency in a wider structure or system, nor a complete intact identity of being. It does seem that Deleuze places importance on the time which carries space forward, and that the subject can only be grasped in spaces, such that a “subject” is only a temporality fixed in corporeality, in

“repetitive impasses”. This question will however be left open for the moment, and figure as a theoretical enquiry to Deleuze’s philosophy further on. The question also, I want to stress, puts emphasis on the pedagogical issue at hand: what is called learning would here be considered transformation of subjectivity, or rather the process of transformation. This transformation is all around and within us in our everyday lives; pedagogy doesn’t stop outside of institutional walls, but is always carried out in our practices which produces new forms of subjectivity and new possibilities for transformation.

The paradoxical relationship discussed here will be the central focus for the rest of this thesis; the relation between the corporeal body and its incorporeal movement that we will come to defined as force and affect. The body is however the central site for the temporality of subjectivity, and also in a parallel relationship with its incorporeal movements and time. It has become apparent that discussing the body using the philosophy of Deleuze immediately takes us out of its thick materiality. As been noted by Hughes (2011:1-2) that in extensive studies of Deleuze and the body, it quickly slips away into something other than the body itself. It is taken up rather as a problem than a concept in order propel into a discussion about movements, forces and affects; and this is also telling for the problem facing posthumanist research concerning materiality in favour of the non-material when maintaining a Deleuzian ontology. In my reading of Deleuze, the paradoxes of the forces around and within in the body cannot be dichotomised so vigorously. The incorporeal is always within the corporeal, but on a separate and distinct metaphysical plane;19

19 With such claims I mean that we cannot attribute the same conditions to the causes of both planes, as would amount to a representational thinking where we can tell that, for example, the conscious is representing the unconscious. Instead, Deleuze (2004:7) places a fundamental importance on the separateness of corporeal causes and incorporeal effects, of which I will discuss in detail further on.

in short, a paradoxical parallelism needs to complement studies already done concerning the body and information technology using the philosophy of Deleuze.


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